Monday, July 04, 2005

As one grows older and has a greater variety of experiences in life, does one get blasé and cynical about life? It's something I encounter every once in a while. While the young seem enthusiastic, shocked and outraged, the old seem wise and well, cold to it all. As I grow older, do I try to escape this, or embrace it? After all, the small joys that life has to offer get repetitive after a while. The small and big horrors that life seems to inflict on the less fortunate become everyday.Being horrified by poverty in India is a tourist's indulgence. If you do it on a trip back, be ready to be labelled a firang (a foreigner).

My cousin once told me that there are three Gs that one notices on returning to India from abroad: Garmi (the heat), Gardi (a Marathi word for crowds), and Garibi (poverty). For many of us, it takes a stint abroad in more affluent locales to realize and feel how poor the majority of Indians really are. Staying in India makes a lot of people immune to it (I stand guilty of the charge). Kind of like life itself. The more you live, the less surprises you. So, you need the young.

For it is the young who bring change to the world. If not literally, then the attitude of the young does that. Enthusiasm, outrage, passion are essential qualities to do anything worthwhile to make a change. Tempering that attitude with cynicism and world-weariness only seeks to retain the status quo.

I sense that cynicism about Live8 when I read about it in the papers and elsewhere. The fact is, if you can still be nonchalant about millions dying from starvation in Africa and elsewhere, or by the fact that so many people are affected by floods in Gujarat (supposedly one of India's richest states), something's wrong with you. With me. With all of us. A bumper sticker on a neighbor's car says it best - " If you're not angry, you should be!". Bono's statements seem stilted and pretence at times. You probably expect the kind of statements he makes or the songs he writes ("Peace On Earth"? Dream On!) in a school essay.But he's actually giving a voice to people without one in the affluent world. If not for him or Bob Geldof or the other celebrities with their pet causes, the only consciousness we'll have is when the genocides and famines are all over, millions are dead and Oscar-winning movies are made about them.

There is never a good time or a bad time for doing something worthwhile. The only time is now. One can only do the best one can. But are we doing even that much?

1 comment:

Anand said...

No, we are not !

I have felt that one can be cynical about events, persons etc. but mass cynicism or sheer indifference is what we need to wrestle with in today's times.